Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) was unique among 19th century artists for his scientific approach. As a student, Eakins excelled in science, mathematics, languages, and drawing.3,4 After high school graduation in 1862, he attended drawing classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and attended lectures in anatomy at Jefferson Medical College before leaving for Europe to study art. In Paris, he enrolled in the École des Beaux Arts, where he entered the studio of Jean-Léon Gérôme and drew from the nude for 5 months. Later he studied sculpture with Augustin-Alexandre Dumont and portraiture with Léon Bonnat. During his fourth and final year in Europe, his mother was diagnosed with a mental illness at 50 years of age. Shortly after his return to America in 1870, she was hospitalized. Following hospital discharge, she was confined to her room, dying 2 years later from “exhaustion from mania.” During his mother's illness, Eakins sought support from his 17-year-old sister, Margaret, who joined him in sporting activities and modeled for him. A stipend from his father's investments provided financial support that allowed him the freedom to choose his own subjects. Among those portrait subjects were the prominent surgeons Samuel David Gross and David Hayes Agnew, the poet Walt Whitman, physicist Henry A. Rowland, and President Rutherford Hayes.
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Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins (1844-1916), American. Cover: The Agnew Clinic, 1889. Oil on canvas, 84⅜ × 118⅛ in. Courtesy of the
LOCATOR="http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/pennhistory/art/agnewclinic/agnewclinic.html">University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
The Gross Clinic, 1875. Oil on canvas, 96 × 78½ in. ©Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pa/The Bridgeman Art Library (http://www.jefferson.edu/eakins/grosspic.cfm).
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